Every so often, I’m prompted to write a diatribe about some experience I’ve had. In this post, I thought I’d relate some bad customer service experiences I’ve recently had.
I’m an older dude who still plays video games.
I was there when Pong, the original tennis game made an appearance. And I’m still playing games several decades later. I’m in my 50s, btw, not some geriatric button masher. Not yet, anyway.
Video games aren’t just the preserve of the young!
I also like the Zombie genre. I bought a game called State of Decay back in 2014 which is a game that tests your survival skills following the Zombie Apocalypse.
This year, the long awaited sequel – the imaginatively entitled State of Decay 2 – was released.
Now, I usually buy my games from the likes of Steam (or games vendors that sell Steam keys). In case you don’t know what Steam is, it’s a games portal where you download games after you buy a game access code. They also keep games updated on your PC for you automatically.
State of Decay 2 isn’t available on Steam.
The original game studio that developed State of Decay was bought out by Microsoft, so State of Decay 2 is a Microsoft title.
Bad Customer Service #1 – Not Proving Enough Information To Your Customer
So I bought my game and a DLC (DownLoadable Content – an addon for the game) from CDKeys – a discount games store – and got a receipt by email that included download links. There was no mention of game keys.
In my innocence, I assumed that these download links were to download the game and the addon to my PC.
No, they were links to the game keys for the game and DLC.
But nowhere on those game key pages were there any instructions on where to download the actual game and its addon.
I contacted CDKeys support and asked where I could download the game.
Maybe English wasn’t their first language, because all they did was tell me where to get the game keys again.
So I sent a dumbed-down version of my request again.
Meanwhile, I decided to hunt around online for any clue as to where you can get your game downloads.
It took a while before I found the golden nugget of information that these games need to be downloaded from the Microsoft Store.
And where’s that online?
Bad Customer Service #2 – Forcing Your Customer To Do Something They May Not Want To
Turns out there’s a link to it in your Start Menu – but only if you’re running Windows 10. And it must be the Anniversary Edition of Windows 10.
It just so happens that my games PC does run Windows 10 (a horrible operating system in my opinion). Back in April there was an enforced upgrade of Windows 10 issued by Microsoft.
That’s right. Microsoft forced a Windows upgrade on its customers without seeking their express permission to do so. I’m not sure if that actually breaks EU law.
After that update – which I think upgraded Windows 10 to the Anniversary Edition – I could no longer create folders on my external drive. I could copy files to and from the disk. I just wasn’t allowed to create any new folders.
By the way, I can get Windows 10 to crash on demand – getting the (light) blue screen of death – just by plugging in another external hard drive after I log in. This has always happened so it’s not an issue confined to the recent update.
A friend of mine’s email client was scrambled following the enforced update. There are other sad stories of people having their systems messed up by the update.
Anyway, back to the game.
Bad Customer Service #3 – Making Your Customer Jump Through Unnecessary Hoops And Making Them use A Broken User Interface
I opened the Microsoft Store since I finally knew where to find it.
“You need a Microsoft account to access the store“, I was told. “Use your Skype, All-in-one ID or other Microsoft credentials to log in”.
I have a Skype account, so I logged in with it.
I typed “State of Decay 2” into the search box.
“Your account is invalid!”
What do you mean it’s invalid? I’ve just logged in!
“Please create a new account!”
So I had to log out, faff about creating a whole new account and log into it.
I searched for “State of Decay 2” again.
“Your account is invalid!”
For f**k’s sake, no it’s not!
“You seem to have more than two accounts. Only one per customer is permitted.”
But you just told me to create a new account!
“This issue can be automatically fixed. Click the Fix button.”
If it can be fixed automatically, then why not fix it automatically? Don’t waste my time telling me I have to click a button that I have to click in order to get any further with your crappy system!
“Your accounts have been consolidated.”
At this point, something other than an error appeared when I searched for “State of Decay 2“…
The game sales page appeared asking me to buy it. Looking at the page there was a “…” option. Clicking that brought up a menu where one of the options was “Redeem Game Code“.
Finally, I was getting somewhere.
I entered the game key and the game actually downloaded.
Ok, now to download the DLC.
I typed in the DLC name and got a “no such product” type message.
How do I get my DLC??
I returned to the “State of Decay 2” sales page and clicked the “…” button to see if I could use the “Redeem Game Code” option again.
That option was now missing from the menu.
Because I’d already redeemed a code for that game. Why would I need to redeem it again?
So I did a search for “State of Decay” to see what popped up.
There were 3 results – “”State of Decay 2“, “State of Decay 2 Ultimate” and “Preppers DLC“.
Well, I didn’t buy the “Preppers DLC“; I bought the Apocalyptic Pack DLC. So where was that?
I clicked on the “Preppers DLC” link to see if I could redeem my DLC key there.
“Product no longer available“.
Finally, I gave “State of Decay 2 Ultimate” a shot.
Bejaysus and begorrah, this page did open. It did have a “…” link. And that link did open a menu with a “Redeem Game Code” option.
I clicked it and pasted in my DLC key even though it wasn’t for the “State of Decay 2 Ultimate” version of the game.
The system accepted the key and then…the menu closed and…nothing happened.
Had the key been accepted? Had it actually gone through?
I clicked “…” again but the “Redeem Game Code” option was gone.
So where was my DLC?
I don’t know how, but when I loaded and ran the game, the DLC was listed as having been installed.
So it all worked out in the end.
Apart from the 2 hours I spent trying to find where to download the damn thing and actually install it.
This is a lesson in how not to treat your customers.
A Customer-Hostile Experience
It feels like Microsoft hates its customers and has gone out of its way to put as many obstacles in a customer’s way as possible.
It’s lead to an absolutely lousy customer experience – so bad in fact that I don’t ever see myself buying another game that’s provided through their buggy, user-hostile Store.
And now that you’ve read this whinge, you’ll probably feel the same way too.
You may not be a gamer but you’ll probably take from this post that Microsoft customer support sucks big-time.
That’s the power of word-of-mouth. Bad word-of-mouth.
And over coffee in the office tomorrow you might regale your colleagues with this story you came across about how bad Microsoft serves its customers.
So, more bad press for Microsoft.
And you add that to the variety of stories of bugs and weird behaviour in Windows 10 following the enforced update, it’s no wonder that I’ve heard a lot of people saying they’ve had it with Microsoft and they’re moving to Linux or a Mac.
The combined experiences here could potentially lead to the downfall of Microsoft. It won’t happen overnight. But there could be a sizable migration of users away from the platform to other operating systems in the coming years.
All because of bad customer service.
This is also an example of one stupendous own-goal.
If you have customers yourself, plan to or even if you only have subscribers to a newsletter, treat them with respect. Treat them the way you’d want to be treated and valued.
It can take years to build a reputation only to see it destroyed in an instant because you show your customers and subscribers that you don’t care how they experience your brand.
Don’t be that guy or gal!
After sending a couple of additional emails to CDKeys about where I could download the game I ordered from them, somebody knowledgeable finally responded and explained the process of accessing the game download.
It’s just a pity that they don’t include this information with their game keys (at least where Microsoft games are concerned). It’s a bad mistake to assume customers will be intimately acquainted with the game portal in question. And every one of them does things differently.
While CDKeys failed to provide enough information, Microsoft are the real culprits here in providing bad customer service. There’s really no excuse for it. A company with the monetary resources it has access to should have the slicked, most customer-friendly portal around.
It just feels like they’ve been penny-pinching and it’s come back to bit them on the ass!
If you’ve a bad customer service story you’d like to share or how a bad experience changed your view of a company or seller, please have your say in the comments below…
Filed under: When Things Don't Go According To Plan